Formatting Papers in APA

Recommendations and Guidelines for APA Formatting

Many teachers ask their students to format their papers according to APA principles. If you have already created an APA list of references, you will also need to format your paper according to APA.

Follow these general guidelines:

  • Use standard A4 paper, sized 8 ½  x 11”.
  • Make sure that your margins do not exceed 1 inch on all sides.
  • Indent the first word in every paragraph one inch.
  • Use Times New Roman, font size 12 throughout the body of your work.
  • Check if your paper is double-spaced.
  • Don’t forget to include a running head on the title page of your APA formatted paper.
  • Make sure that all page numbers are right justified.
  • Type the title of your paper in the middle of the title page, using all capitalized words.
  • Make sure that your running head is shorter than the title but still conveys the meaning of your paper.

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Components of an APA paper

An APA-formatted paper must include the following elements:

  • Title Page
  • Abstract
  • Body of the paper
  • A list of references

Begin with Title Page

On this page, you will include the following information: the title of your work, the running head, your name, your institution, and a note. Make sure that your running head is brief and informative.

Do not forget that you cannot use the word combination “running head” on any pages other than the title page. On other pages of your paper, you will also have a running head but without these two words.

The title of your work must reflect the true essence of your work, its idea and purpose. Your audience must understand what you are going to talk about in your paper.

The title must be centered. It must be presented using 12-point Times New Roman. Do not use italics. Do not underline the title.  

The title should be brief and informative. It should not exceed two lines. In addition, it should not include more than 12 words. The title page must be double-spaced, as well as the rest of your paper. Do not mention any credentials or titles, except for your name. For instance, do not write Dr. Maria Flores. Write simply, “Maria Flores”. Your institution is where you did the research. Do not confuse it.


Now when you are working on your abstract, you must begin with the title of your work. You will have to put the word “Abstract” at the center of the abstract page. Do not use any quotation marks. Then on the next line, you will start writing a brief summary of your paper. The purpose of an abstract is to introduce your readers to the idea, topic, and purpose of your paper. You will also specify the questions you try to answer and the results you have received in your study.

Do not use indentation. The abstract should be double-spaced. It must not exceed 250 words. Include a few keywords to help your readers locate your work in a scholarly database. Begin with the word “Keywords” in italics, followed by a list of keywords.


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The Body of Your Paper

The body of your paper begins on the next page after the abstract. You will begin with a title (do not use bold font; do not italicize).

After the title comes the first paragraph of your paper. Do not forget about indentation.

In the introduction, you describe the background of the problem and justify its significance. Be more detailed than simply providing a summary of your paper.

Then a new section begins. It is the Method section, and its title is bold and centered. Here you explain what processes and procedures you used to carry out your study. Be thorough, so that other researchers could replicate your study in the future.

Then comes the Results section, with a bold and centered section title. Here you summarize the key findings of your study.

Now the Discussion. You also make the title bold and centered. In this section, you analyze and interpret the results of your study against other findings you might have described in previous sections.

Conclusions and recommendations must also be included. Use evidence to justify your conclusions.

Do not forget to justify and mention any limitations in your study. Include recommendations for future research and practice.


Start a new page to create a list of references.

The word “References” should be centered. Use bold font. Do not use any quotation marks. Do not italicize or underline it.

All references must be listed in alphabetical order and double-spaced.

The list of references must include all sources you have mentioned in the body of your paper.